Physician orders for testing are up as patients seek care they delayed earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, Quest Diagnostics CEO Jim Davis said Wednesday.

The company’s testing volume exceeds pre-pandemic levels, he said.

“We have continued to see slight increases in test density. Some of that could’ve been because of delayed care,” said Davis, who became CEO in November. “As we enter into more of an inflationary environment from a healthcare cost standpoint, it is hitting employers’ bottom line. They are very motivated to work with us directly.”

Quest plans to expand its molecular and genetic testing as well as its home-based offerings. It will also reach out to more health systems, which may want to outsource some of their lab operations, Davis said.

“Given some of the financial pressures that hospitals are facing today, maybe they are going to choose not to go after this outreach business anymore—it is capital intensive and it may not be the first priority of a hospital [chief financial officer],” Davis said. “The funnel looks good for many hospital lab outreach deals; it helps them monetize that asset.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pays $100 for polymerase chain reaction COVID-19 tests, and that rate will drop to $51 once the public health emergency ends. Quest plans to charge insurers $51 and will urge them to cover all types of COVID-19 tests, Davis said.

—Alex Kacik

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